Road Rights- The No-Contact Crash
What to do if you’re forced to evade a careless or aggressive driver
By Bob Mionske
A reader recently asked an interesting question. If a car causes a cyclist to crash, but doesn’t actually collide with the rider, is the driver still at fault?
In a recent incident, a husband-and-wife tandem team ran into an abutment after a driver violated their right-of-way. Police officers told them, incorrectly, that it was “not legally an accident because there was no collision between bike and car.” The officers refused to take contact information from a witness even though the driver admitted fault at the scene. They also informed the couple that it was their responsibility to control the bike. In another incident, a driver failed to yield before making a right turn and nearly struck a cyclist. The rider crashed, and wonders if his insurance company will pay.
Although neither vehicle touched the cyclists, the drivers operated in a way that caused a crash. In fact, the only reason there was no contact was because the cyclists took evasive action. Here’s how to avoid this kind of situation, and how to handle it if you do hit the pavement.
Be extra vigilant near intersections and driveways, where drivers are more likely to violate your right-of-way.
While you may be able to file a successful claim after a no-contact crash, you will find it harder if you don’t have evidence of the driver’s negligence. Witnesses can provide valuable proof, so make every effort to get contact information from any bystanders who saw what happened.
Record Your Ride
You may have seen the YouTube clip of the Colorado driver who harassed two cyclists by following them and honking. He was eventually ticketed, thanks in part to that video.
Research and assistance by Rick Bernardi, J.D.
This article, The No-Contaact Crash, was originally published on Bicycling on January 2, 2013.
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